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Connections with numbers[edit]

I have moved the following. In all cases that I have seen, those systems are decimal, they are just not "digital". Greek numbers assigned letters values of 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,20,30,40,50, &c. Looks pretty decimal to me. They just indicate the power of ten by using a different symbol instead of making us figure it out by the column:

Modern abjads have also been used for isopsephy, a system of assigning numeric values to individual letters. Before the development of the decimal number system, this was one of the regular systems for writing numbers. In some languages, the relationship between words and numbers created by this system has led to poetic and mystical usages.

No--A number system that has a distinct symbol for "5" and "50", does not restrict itself to ten digits, does not depend on powers of 10 for placement, and which does not hold symbols for powers of 10 in any prominence compared to other symbols, cannot be considered 'decimal' by ANY definition of the term.—Preceding unsigned comment added by‎ (talkcontribs) an abjad, each basic grapheme represents a consonant, although vowels may be indicated by marks on the basic graphemes.... In an abjad, each basic grapheme represents only a consonant.

This is confusing, and it may be owing to confusion over the terms abjad vs. abugida in the field, but this article's opening suggests that graphemes in an abjad may have marks indicating vowels... but also says that an abjad is not an abugida because an abugida may have marks indicating vowels. I'm not the person to do it, but this paragraph needs to be clarified. Glenford 22:30, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

An abjad is a type of writing system where there is one symbol per character (as in an alphabet).

This incorporates a distinction between a symbol and a character that is completely lost on me. When is a symbol not a character? When is a character not a symbol? If such things as vowel points in Semitic writing systems are symbols but not characters, which I guess is what the sentence means, it would seem to me that this definition would exclude, say, the Aramaic alphabet, while later in the article it seems to be at least implicitly included. --Calieber 15:47, Oct 30, 2003 (UTC)

See also Bahá'í, where abjad is a numerological system.

Abjad is not actually mentioned on the Bahá'í page. --Mr2001 13:16, 25 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I don't think that it something specific to Bahá'í, it seems to be numerological system based on the arabic letters. From german Wikipedia [1]:

  • ابجد – abdschad: 1–2–3–4
  • هوز – hawwaz: 5–6–7
  • حطى – hutti: 8–9–10
  • كلمن – kalaman: 20–30–40–50
  • سعفص – sa'fas: 60–70–80–90
  • قرشت – qaraschat: 100–200–300–400
  • ثخذ – thachidh: 500–600–700
  • ضظغ – dazagh: 800–900–1000

Somebody in the know should correct this, I'm not sure enough to do it myself.

Pjacobi 14:29, 25 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Objections to Daniels's definition[edit]

This paragraph should be removed: "Daniels terms look at the external features of these writings, but ignore their historical membership in the large family of West Semitic writings. Most prefer to regard the West Semitic writings as an odd syllabary in which the consonant is specified, but the vowel remains implied." Who are the "most"? There is no citation, and with good reason: it isn't true. The view of West Semitic systems as "odd syllabaries" has been conclusively refuted. Yes, they derived originally from the Egyptian system, but they work very differently from the Egyptian, which is why they have a different name. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:20, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Barry B. Powell writes about this term (2009, Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 172-174):

"To one scholar, the West Semitic writings were an “alphabet”; to another, they were a “consonantal alphabet”; to another, they are a “consonantal writing”; to others, a “consonantry”; to another, a “consonantal syllabary.” Whatever category the West Semitic writings belonged to, they did not work like the Greek alphabet, always qualified as the “first true alphabet” or something similar. Inspecting only the external features of a writing, and mindful of the controversy, one scholar has suggested the term abjad for the West Semitic writings, an acronym from the first four signs in the Arabic signary Alif, Ba, Jim, Dal, according to an order of the signs no longer observed in modern Arabic (grouped according to letter shape). The order appears to be very old, but how old is hard to say, perhaps a variation on an unattested ancient Phoenician series aleph, beth, gimel, daleth. Now one encounters this term on Wikipedia and even in print. Arabic writing is of course a West Semitic writing, in which only the long vowels are notated within the otherwise consonantal system, much as functioned the ancient matres lectionis. Unfortunately, to call West Semitic writing an abjad, a Semitic equivalent to the Greek alphabetos, does not clarify its inner structure or place the writing within a general theory of how writing systems are related historically and how as types they are related to the elements of speech. Just as well the neologism abugida, offered by the creator of “abjad” to categorize the scripts of Ethiopia and India and other similar scripts, further obscures that such writings are minor modifications of the ancient West Semitic syllabic system. The term abugida is based on a medieval Ethiopic signary, a contraction of the Semitic names aleph, beth, gimel, daleth (abugida) or however they might have sounded in Ethiopia around 1000 AD. Again, it is the Greek word alphabetos with a Semitic accent. In “abugidas” the basic sign is said to stand for a consonant + /a/, then the same consonant with different vowels is designated by diacritic marks added to the basic sign, as in the Ethiopic writing mentioned above: The medieval Ethiopic writing, c. AD 1000, based on a Southwest Semitic version of West Semitic script, worked in this way. So did the much older syllabic Indian Karosthi and Brahmi scripts. The Karosthi script appeared in the 3rd century BC in the Punjab (modern Pakistan) under the influence of earlier Persian bureaucratic use of the West Semitic Aramaic script and language. Karosthi script died out in the 3rd century AD, when the still earlier Brahmi script also disappeared. Short examples of Brahmi script have recently been found from the 5th or even 6th century BC. Karosthi and Brahmi scripts appear to be independent developments from the West Semitic Aramaic. The Brahmi syllabic script is the ancestor of all modern “native” scripts in India, including Devanagari script (“sacred script of the city”), in which today are written Hindi, Marathi, Pali, Sindhi and many other south Asian languages. Brahmi script was also the ancestor of scripts in Tibet, Mongolia, and Southeast Asia. The earliest extended documents in Brahmi are edicts published by King Ashoka, who ruled 273 to 232 BC and included in his empire most of modern India, parts of Afghanistan and Persia, and portions of Bengal. He accepted the teachings of Sakyamuni the Buddha and installed 33 edicts, which ringed all of India, about the need to follow dharma, “righteousness,” in his kingdom, and to follow other Buddhist social and moral precepts. The Edicts of Ashoka are in fact the earliest testimony to Buddhist teachings. While the edicts in the east were in Brahmi script in an eastern Indo-European language (Magadhi, probably the language of the Buddha), edicts in the west were in Karosthi script and a western Indo-European language (an ancestor to Sanskrit) … its model, Aramaic, must have been syllabic too, unless we believe that the inventor of Brahmi script rejected the “phonemic” analysis of West Semitic signs to encode syllables instead. The Greek alphabet, and its revolutionary system of vocalization, was two hundred years old in c. 600 BC, if Brahmi script goes back that far, but the inventor of Brahmi script clung nonetheless to the syllabic structure of his model. Such writings as West Semitic and Ethiopic and Brahmi are not “abjads” or “abugidas,” nomenclature based solely on external features, but old-fashioned syllabaries answering to the human faculty to break down speech into syllabic units. Such was the inner structure of these writings." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wakantanka (talkcontribs) 16:15, 15 July 2009 (UTC)wakan (talk) 16:44, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Strange link[edit]

I removed the folowing link from the article. It doesn't make any sense to me. Please explain what this is about before adding links, which need exaplanation.

Pjacobi 09:32, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Re: strange link[edit]

On Abjad (external link)

Dear Pjacobi:

it is an introduction on how the history of abjad develops, the article tracks the Arabic / Farsi lineage of Abjad (as there are many forms of Abjad) and it discusses how Arabic Abjad is devided into 9 powers (how zero is used as place holder) instead of Kaballah which gains power from 10. the tool of analysis is 'numogram' which is another kabbalistic / Abjad form of Tree of Life except as numogram is constituted by syzygies (twin numbers) whose sum must be equal to 9 (the 9 is the ABJAD power) instead of 10 (see for example: [2]). other topics of discissions in that article about Abjad is [1] why Arabic Abjad is an exception and takes its power from 9 and letter ghain or its last letter is equal to 1000 (what does 1000 mean in the occult and mathematical numerology of Arabic Abjad?) [2] connection of numerology and especially Abjad with Philosophy of Deleuze and Gauttari's numeracy or numbering numbers [3] in the wake of numerous occult and numerology stuff on War on Terror on the net, the article depicts why Kaballah and Abjad are used frequently. [4] interesting properties of Abjad when it is applied (i.e. installed) to the Numogram (aka Decimal Labyrinth) and Tree of Life. The article is not mine but i thought it is a good text to show how Abjad has developed systematically and enters to occult and philosophy.


I still find the link confusing, taking for instance a snippet like this:

This is why ABJADs are perfectly applicable to ultra-complex dynamic platforms (such as warmachines and their plane of tacticity), digraming a numeracy “immanenet to thier assemblges” and soft grids of movement (read Nick’s post).

However, there is one problem, that certain warmachines cannot be diagramed exclusively by strictly semitic-based, vowelless-oriented systems of numeracy as in the case of techno-capitalist Warmachines running on WoTerror. Here Arabic Abjad is the best numbering platform (let aside the polarity of Farsi / Arabic cultures in WoTerror) as it has characters for some vowels as well; creatively letting some problematic but also fundamentally crucial numbering entities and functions enter in.

The ancestry tree of writing systems is nice, but I think a similiar one is already included in one of the other writing system articles, I'm too stupid to fint it right now. If not it needs being drawed and included.
The link would make more sense, if the numerology behind this would have an overview treatmeant in the Wikipedia, either here, or in Numerology or in a separate article Abjad numerology.
pv000, if you are interested in this, but not confident enought to start a new article right now, I suggest writing a draft in your user space, e.g. User:pv000/Abjad numerology (draft).
Pjacobi 18:56, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Yes, you are right; it seems the article has some references to other discussions. The subject of 'the warmachine and numerology' refers to the discussion of warmachines and smoothspace in A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze and Guattari) and also this article on why numerologic systems (Abjads) do not use fuzzy numbers. [3]

qoute from that article: "To be crude, there is a 3rd Army, not a 3.14th Army or a Pi Army etc. - a fact holding for every compositional level of the war machine in question. Making culture operate as a war machine requires the disintegration of all semiotics into numbers and a complementary numerical simplification. (Both aspects essential to 'numerization'). The currencies - or concrete semiotics - of commercial war machines, share these characteristics of digital 'granularity' and pre-eminence of modularity (typically on a decimal base) or the compositional aspect of number."

thanks, i will start to write a draft, i'll see if the writers of Hyperstition who are experts (former professors or philosophers) can join us in building up wikipedia or helping me to write this article.


Baha'e religion and Abjad[edit]

Dear Pjacobi,

Yes although Abjad is not peculiar to Baha'ie but only two sects (both considered as renegades by Sunnies and Shias) are adept in using Abjad (i.e. Arabic / Farsi Abjad); first 'Horoofi' (letters) sect founded by Mirza Fazlollah-e Astar'abadi and then Bahai'e. They are both regarded as two religions or sects which have developed Abjad not as a simple numerological system but a religion of numbers or what Deleuze and Gauttari suggest as "numbering numbers" which are entities (entity as event) rather than mere representations.


Link suggestions[edit]

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Abjad (linguistics) vs. Abjad order[edit]

It doesn't make sense to me to have abjad, the name of a kind of writing system, and abjad, the name of a particular order of the Arabic alphabet, in the same article.

I think this should be split into two articles, Abjad (linguistics) and Abjad order. Or alternatively Abjad order should be in the Arabic alphabet article. --Macrakis 21:24, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

It seems you are suggesting a split because "alphabet" and "alphabetical order" are two concepts. However, it makes sense to me to make a cursory reference to the abjad sequencing in the collation article. I put the three examples under abjad because the word abjad comes from them, and because it is interesting that there are variations in the later part of the sequence. The Arabic alphabet article is getting too long as it is - I don't think moving this information there would be a wise move. Cbdorsett 22:16, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

Hebrew abjad?[edit]

I am going to suggest deletion of the new addition about a "single-word" pronunciation of the Hebrew alphabet. It sounds contrived to me. Unless the contributor can provide some reference to verify that this sequence actually exists somewhere in literature, I'm going to ax it. Cbdorsett 22:12, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

The text was:

The actual Hebrew sequence, as may be pronounced as a single word due to the unnecessity of vowels in the Hebrew language, is as follows:

  • abgada[h]v[w]azhatik[kh]alamansapatzqareshet

I've removed this because as it stood, it had no apparent relation to the surrounding text, or indeed to the article, since the material on abjadi order was moved elsewhere; this was apparently overlooked at the time. —Charles P. (Mirv) 22:44, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Abjad Definition from Daniels and Bright[edit]

The World's Writing Systems", Peter T. Daniels & William Bright, general editors, OUP, 1996. Section 1, "The Study of Writing Systems", written by Peter T. Daniels.

In a consonantary, here called an abjad as a parallel to "alphabet" (the word is formed from the first letters of the most widespread example, the Arabic script, in their historic order . . . ), the characters denote consonants (only).

An abugida is a full syllabary. --FourthAve 20:58, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

An abugida is both a full syllabary and a full alphabet in many respects. A pure abugida makes available characters for every syllable in the language, so it can be called a syllabary. However, these characters are composites of characters for consonants and vowels, for all of which there are such characters (except for the 'inherent vowel'), so it can also be called an alphabet that just combines the consonant and vowel characters as syllabic characters. True, abugidas differ systematically from pure alphabets in one respect, namely that a lone consonant character denotes not just that consonant but a syllable where it is followed by the inherent vowel, whatever it is in that abugida, and to silence the vowel an extra character is needed. But you can conceive of a writing system which is just like a normal alphabet but where a consonant not followed by a vowel would be interpreted as having a default (inherent) vowel after it, and to silence it you would need an extra character. (Like when writing the English word 'mate' you would write mat if e were the inherent vowel, and to write 'mat' you would write mat* or something along those lines). Would you call that an abugida or an alphabet? Because the characters for consonants and vowels would be equal and separate, it would probably be called a special kind of alphabet.
Also, one characteristic of prototypical syllabaries is that for every kind of consonant-vowel combination there is a separate, independent character, whereas in abugidas syllables with the same consonant share the character for that consonant and similarly for the vowels. Usually you wouldn't call a system a syllabary if the parts of the syllables can be distinguished, but once again, cases in between could be imagined and probably can be found, too.
What I'm saying is that there are no clear-cut categories for the writing systems, but rather a continuum with focal points that we call alphabet, syllabary, abugida (alphasyllabary), abjad (consonantary), logographic system, etc. Most systems have properties of many of these prototypical cases, which are still useful for describing their nature. -Oghmoir 14:54, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Primary meaning[edit]

It's semi-annoying that the more common and long-established meaning of the word Abjad has been shuffled off to a sub-section of the "Arabic Alphabet" article, while the Abjad article is now devoted to a recent scholarly neologism. Shouldn't there at least be a disambiguation page? AnonMoos 04:33, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

yes, make this a disambiguation page, and have the article on abjadi order at abjadi order (and this article at abjad (linguistics) or some such. 19:37, 7 January 2006 (UTC)


Given that it's a neologism, could the pronunciation be included. Is it /ˈæbdʒæd/? Gailtb 04:33, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

My IPA isn't the best but it should be more along the lines of /ˈabdʒad/. --LakeHMM 03:58, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

If you were looking for how Arabic speakers pronounce the word:
  • Egyptians: [ˈʔæbɡæd] or [ʔæbˈɡædi]
  • Levantines: [ˈʔa̠bʒa̠d] or [ˈʔa̠bʒa̠di]
  • Central-Eastern Arabian Peninsual: [ˈʔæd͡ʒæd] or [ˈʔæd͡ʒædi]
Not sure of how other regions would pronounce it, but accordingly, the closest Anglicization would be: /ˈæbdʒəd/ or /ˈæbɡəd/ . --Mahmudmasri (talk) 00:33, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

Tet and theta[edit]

Hebrew tet is homologous to greek theta. It wasn't removed or turned into a vowel. Zargulon 21:42, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

request for clarification of lead sentence in section "Impure Abjads"[edit]

The lead sentence in the section "Impure Abjads" is confusing, because in the clause after the semi-colon a reference is made to "the term". The problem for me is that in the previous clause there were two terms introduced: one is "Impure Abjads", which I assume is the term that is to be defined in this section; and the term "mater lectionis" together with its plural variant "matres lectionis". Here is the sentence as it now stands:

"Impure" abjads (such as Arabic) may have characters for some vowels as well (called matres lectionis, 'mothers of reading', singular mater lectionis), or optional vowel diacritics, or both; however, the term's originator, Peter T. Daniels, insists that it should be applied only to scripts entirely lacking in vowel indicators, thus excluding Arabic, Hebrew, and Syriac.

My question is: does the phrase "the term" after the semi-colon refer to "impure abjads", "abjads", or "mater lectionis"? And my requests are: 1) yes, I know that I could go look up Peter T. Daniels to research which term he originated, but couldn't whoever wrote this -- presumably someone expert in matters linguistic -- write a better sentence that is clear enough not require the reader to do further research simply to understand the point of the sentence?; and 2) could someone who knows about Daniels and abjads and matres lectionis please rewrite this sentence? I would if I felt sure I understood what the gist of it was, but I don't, so I won't. Thanks for any help. Dveej 14:11, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

Connections to numbers[edit]

I just neatened up this section a bit, but I still don't know if it belongs in this article. Any thoughts? If you think it doesn't, feel free to take it out. --LakeHMM 01:27, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

"As with all syllabaries"?[edit]

Right now the second lead paragraph begins "As with all syllabary-like forms, abjads differ from alphabets in that only the consonants, not vowels, are represented in the basic graphemes." Surely this is a misrepresentation of syllabaries? I thought syllabaries are characterized by using a symbol for each syllable, not necessarily by hiding vowel sounds. Many syllabaries contain different symbols with the same consonant sound but different vowel sounds (e.g. na, ni, nu, ne, no in Japanese hiragana), and also different symbols with the same vowel sound but different consonant sounds (e.g. ka, sa, na, ha... in hiragana). Thus each symbol represents the syllable, not just the consonant (or vowel). Am I wrong, or should the lead be corrected? --mglg(talk) 20:02, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

Since nobody voiced a differing opinion, I will correct the lead regarding syllabaries. -- mglg(talk) 21:05, 4 December 2006 (UTC)


This topic does not belong here, but to Numerology. The topic is treated here: 786 (number)#In religion. Maybe a link in Abjad numerals would be appropriate.  Andreas  (T) 14:44, 4 November 2006 (UTC)


Waw (or Vav) was originally pronounced [w] as in wood, see Hebrew alphabet#Vowels and consonants in Ancient Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew#Phonology. The [v] pronunciation is modern. The [w] pronunciation is still common among Teimanim and some Mizrahim, see Hebrew phonology.  Andreas  (T) 14:27, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

I support the deletion by User:Asthenization-Creator but not for the reason given. Nobody knows how Hebrew was pronounced 2000 years ago. Cbdorsett 15:00, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

Cleanup issues - Feb 2007[edit]

  • Header: "Some abjads in use are Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Persian, and Avestan."
This is incorrect. Modern Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic and Persian are all "impure" abjads because they all have symbols which are used to represent vowels, although not all vowels are represented in these modern systems. According to our own article Avestan alphabet, there were quite a few vowel symbols in that system as well. As far as I know, the only "true" abjad is the ancient Phoenician, and maybe Hebrew with the pre-1945 spelling.
  • Header: "in abjads the vowel sound is implied by phonology"
The vowel sound is not implied at all. It is simply not there. There are plenty of graphemes that have two or more correct pronunciations. The reader can often choose the correct pronunciation based on knowledge of the grammar and vocabulary of the language. Phonology has nothing to do with it.
  • Header: "(In an abugida, the vowel sounds are defined with the grapheme, and any modifications from the standard vowel sound, including no vowel sound, are represented by vowel marks.)"
I think this paragraph needs to be neatened up. It seems to be about contrasting "abjads" with other types of writing systems. The sentences ought to be roughly parallel.
  • Header: "The terms abjad and abugida appear to be the inventions of Peter T. Daniels, as explained in his book (with William Bright) The World's Writing Systems (Oxford, 1996). They have not won wide acceptance."
Personally, I like the neatness and compactness of these two terms. However, if they truly have not been widely accepted, then we should seriously consider "demoting" them to footnotes and renaming the respective articles accordingly. "Consonantary" works for abjad - I don't have any ideas for abugida. An earlier editor complained on this talk page that "abjad" has had an established meaning for centuries, something which Wikipedia now has on part of the Arabic alphabet page (Arabic_alphabet#Abjad.C4.AB_order)
I have seen these terms in wide use for years in both academic circles and the internet. It may be true that the terms are the invention of a single researcher, but so are many other scientific terms. As I see it, the terms are becoming established, so I don't see any problem other than the statement in question. -Oghmoir 15:03, 21 February 2007 (UTC)
Addition: Granted, a perfectly good optional term for abugida is alphasyllabary. -Oghmoir 21:21, 23 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Etymology: "It has been suggested that the word Abjad may have earlier roots in Phoenician or Ugaritic."
Wow. If anything needs a {{fact}} tag, it's this.
  • Origins: "All known abjads belong to the Semitic family of scripts, and derive from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet, the earliest known abjad, derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs, dated to ca. 1500 BC."
The derivation of Proto-Sinaitic is a hypothesis. This assertion needs a citation.
  • Origins: "The development of an abjad was a significant simplification compared to the earlier syllabaries"
This seems to imply that the Proto-Sinaitic abjad was derived from a syllabary, which is not true, even under the hypothesis which suggests it came from Egyptian hieroglyphs. The sentence needs to be reworked. The rest of the paragraph could use some copyediting as well.
  • Impure abjads: " "Impure" abjads (such as Arabic and Hebrew) may have characters for some vowels as well (called matres lectionis, 'mothers of reading', singular mater lectionis), or optional vowel diacritics, or both; however, the originator of the term abjad, Peter T. Daniels, insists that it should be applied only to scripts entirely lacking in vowel indicators, thus excluding Arabic, Hebrew, and Syriac."
This paragraph actually contradicts the rest of the article. An impure abjad has symbols for some of the vowels, or symbols which are sometimes used for vowels. If mater lectionis has any place in this article at all, it needs to be explained better. The term is the singular, so it should be the lead, and the plural should be mentioned afterwards (opposite to the current arrangement). Nobody cares what Peter Daniels insists. If he has defined a term and that term is relevant to the article, we should have his actual definition. This section is about impure abjads as defined by him. This is the location to provide more information about why Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac fall into this category.
  • Impure abjads: "Impure abjads develop when, due to phonetic change, a previous consonant or diphthong becomes a vowel."
Wait a minute. If an abjad has no representation for vowels, then by definition, it has no representation for diphthongs either. The sentence is wrong. Impure abjads develop when a consonantal symbol acquires a dual purpose, representing both a consonant and a vowel (or diphthong).
  • Impure abjads: "For example, the Hebrew word הורישׁ probably underwent the following pronunciation change: *hawriʃ → *howriʃ → horiʃ. The ו, which was originally the consonant w, became the vowel o. Later, probably in the Second Temple period, the vowel use of ו was expanded to places where no consonant ever existed."
Sorry, I don't buy this. Someone deleted it yesterday, and the proponent put it back. Old (pre-1945) Hebrew orthography had one set of vowels which were represented only by Nikkud points, and another (the "long" vowels) which sat on an actual letter, such as vav or yud. I don't know anything about the Second Temple period and the developments in Hebrew spelling at that time. However, if the proponent of this information has a cite which backs it up, this would be a really good place for it. Also, I think it should be made clear that the hypothesis that vav originally represented the /w/ sound is a hypothesis.
  • Addition of vowels: "Many scripts derived from abjads have been extended with vowel symbols to become full alphabets."
Copyedit required here. How about, "The world's first 'true' alphabet was the Greek. It was developed by extending the Phoenician abjad by the addition of symbols used exclusively for vowel sounds. The Greeks actually adapted several existing symbols, which were used for gutteral consonants not occurring in the Greek language, and gave them new phonetic values." I'm not completely happy with this phrasing, but it's a start.
  • Addition of vowels: "This has mostly happened when the script was adapted to a non-Semitic language, the most famous case being the derivation of the Greek alphabet from the Phoenician abjad."
Whoa, there. It is not the "most famous"; it's the first and as far as I know, the only. I'm not aware that any other people added vowels to abjads, so it seems more accurate to say that all 'true' alphabets follow the Greek model. Maybe there is truth to the hypothesis that the writing systems of India are derived from the Phoenician, but they obviously had to have pre-dated the Greeks' innovation.
  • Addition of vowels: "The Greeks did not need the letters for the guttural (א, ה, ח, ע) and co-articulated (צ, ק) consonants."
Neither צ nor ק is a co-articulated consonant. Further, the Greeks could have used the letter ה, since they had the sound /h/ at the time, and later developed a unique method of representing it (accents on the initial letter where the /h/ sound occurred).

Cbdorsett 16:01, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

This is madness[edit]

Many non-Semitic languages such as English can be written without vowels and read with little difficulty. For example, if the Latin alphabet were a pure abjad, the previous sentence could be written Mn nn-Smtc lnggs sch s nglsh cn b wrttn wtht vwls nd rd wth lttl dffclt (an impure abjad would include more vowels).

r y nsn? Ths s TTLLY NRDBL! f crs y cn rd tht f y hv jst rd th sm sntnc wth th vwls, try wtht knwng n dvnc wht t mns! --Lo'oris 00:33, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

English would certainly be a lot more difficult to read than, say, Arabic in a consonant-only script. And in a language like Spanish, you'd be unable to distinguish masculine and feminine forms! Is l chc "the boy" (el chico) or "the girl" (la chica)? In Italian even number would be indistinguishable, as gender and number are, for many nouns and adjectives, indicated by vowel endings, -o/-a/-i/-e! Some languages with case would fail to distinguish those, too. I restored an edited version of the deleted paragraph Nik42 03:18, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
Good work, this edited version is ok :) --Lo'oris 14:01, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
I realize I'm several years late to this party, but I wanted to point out to Looris that your "unreadable" sentence was actually not difficult for me to read without the vowels, though it certainly took a moment. Anyway, as to the greater point, in my view, Semitic languages are actually MORE difficult than most other languages to read without vowels--take the Spanish and Italian examples cited above, where gender and number are obscured by removing vowels. In Arabic or Hebrew, practically EVERY grammatical category (not just gender and number) is determined by vowel choice. See chapter 8 of Florian Coulmas's "Writing Systems of the World" (Blackwell, 1989) for elaboration on this argument. Chalkieperfect (talk) 08:25, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
Semitic languages do not only rely on vowel choice to indicate grammatical categories. They make frequent use of affixes of various kinds. Cases where a crucial aspect of meaning hinges *only* on a choice of vowels are not that common.1700-talet (talk) 20:53, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

A not a vowel?[edit]

Maybe a stupid question, but if the first character in the Phonecian Abjad is "A", then how does this not contain vowels? Is A not a vowel anymore? Yobmod (talk) 11:51, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

Hmm, after reading the Phonecian alphabet article, and the phenome article, it seems the first letter in the Phonecian Abdjad was "'" - a glottal constanant. So something is wrong with the first picture's undertitle. Don't know what it should be instead though; can someone change it? Yobmod (talk) 11:51, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

I've made a change that hopefully clears up the problem. – jaksmata 21:14, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
You're correct, it represented a glottal stop. Actually, this highlights why Abjads take some getting used to by speakers of English - the English "vowel" A also begins with a glottal stop in many contexts, such as by itself or at the beginning of a sentence or even word. In any case, short vowels are not written in Abjads, so while the English speaker hears the vowel sound, the consonant sounds like "nothing" and you say "it must be a vowel."

Clarification of intro[edit]

There are a good amount of weasel words in the intro. Also, I am pretty sure that "an unusual sort of syllabary" smacks of cultural bias, as there are more than a billion people who use this "unusual" system regularly. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:59, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Additionally, I think the cultural bias permeates throughout. It's telling that the Addition of Vowels section explains that the first "true" alphabet is derived from an Abjad, yet in the article Abjads are called "unusual," and the tone implies some kind of inferiority throughout. This reminds me of what used to pass for anthropology in the 19th century. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:07, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
I think the intent of the word "unusual" in the intro was meant to compare the term Abjad to the term "syllabary", not to compare people who use various writing systems. I went ahead and removed it anyway, because it was superfluous, unsourced and I can see how it contributed to the perception of cultural bias. I hope this helps, although additional sources are badly needed. – jaksmata 16:31, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
I've added a couple of further references and removed the "single-source" flag. -- I think the intent of the word "unusual" was based on the broad application of the term syllabary to a variety of scripts that Daniels showed to have significant typological differences. --Thnidu (talk) 15:15, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Worldwide View[edit]

Even before I saw the note about not representing a worldwide view, I'd added my paragraph about the Tengwar. This is NOT intended as a stunt; when J. R. R. Tolkien did his inventing, he always drew on his philological knowledge, and I think it's fascinating that a European Christian produced an impure abjab! GeorgeTSLC (talk) 21:01, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

...which I have proceeded to remove. Fascinating as it might be to some, a pop culture reference is hardly appropriate (much less useful) here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:30, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

Undiscussed move[edit]

On July 17, Crissov moved this page from Abjad to Consonantary. As far as I can tell, this move was not discussed at all. The main issue with this is that none of the transcluded templates were edited to have the new name in them. Should this be moved back to Abjad? -- Imperator3733 (talk) 23:14, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

I noticed that the undiscussed move occurred, and figured someone was being bold by moving a lesser-known term to a well-known one... but: The sources given only refer to abjads and never use the term "consonantary". Also, "consonantary" totally fails the google test, only 3,580 hits compared to 7,320,000 for "abjad". My feeling is that it would be best to move it back. If it is going to stay at Consonantary, I think at least one scholarly source for that term should exist in the article, and it should explain why consonantary is a better accepted and more descriptive term. – jaksmata 20:07, 13 August 2009 (UTC)
I just moved the article back to Abjad. -- Imperator3733 (talk) 01:50, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

Maltese meaning[edit]

“Abjad” is the Maltese word for “white”. -- (talk) 17:13, 31 August 2009 (UTC)


On the Hieratic page which lists itself as part of the abjad system, someone states "It is an error to view hieratic as a derivative of hieroglyphic writing. The earliest texts from Egypt are produced with ink and brush, with no indication their signs are descendants of hieroglyphs." On this page the suggestion of proto-sinaticus and thus abjad writing is derived from the hieroglyphs. Either there is a contradiction on this page, or something needs to be mentioned about why people think hieroglyphs originate abjad writing. Faro0485 (talk) 15:15, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

To be precise, the hieroglyphic writing is also to a certain extent abjad since it represents consonants but not vowels. What complicates the hieroglyphs is that they can also represent morphemes, kind of like the mesopotamian cuneiform. The abjads in use today are presumed to be derived from the hieroglyphs via the proto-sinaitic script. What is important to note is that hieratic and hieroglyphic writing did not evolve one out of the other, but from what we know today they evolved alongside each other in the same environment for different purposes. Hieratic was used for everyday writing, hieroglyphic for monumentary inscriptions. They are both adbjads in the sense that they do not write vowels. The hieroglyphic writing is to complex to be narrowed down by so a specific term however, and the term would be somewhat debased if carelessly extended to include hieroglyphic writing. Amilah (talk) 03:13, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

Arabic words do not begin with vowels[edit]

""Al-'Arabiyya", lit. "the Arabic" An example of the Arabic script, which is an impure abjad. For example, the vertical bar in the beginning indicates that the word begins with a vowel without defining it." The vertical bar at the beginning (right end) of this word is the Arabic equivalent of the long A; the first two letters are the definite article 'al.' The third letter is the first letter of the word normally transliterated as 'arabyyia' but in fact is a glottal stop -- usually symbolized, if necessary, in English with an apostrophe as 'Arabia. It may sound odd to say that Arabic words do not begin with vowels but it's true. Words we are familiar with which appear to begin with vowels (such as Arabic, algebra, Amman) begin either with a (non-transliterated) glottal stop or the definite article.Cross Reference (talk) 15:26, 23 May 2010 (UTC)

It's true. No Arabic words (to be more precise, no Arabic syllables) begin with vowels. The alif (vertical bar) of the definite article (usually transliterated as al-) does NOT mark a long vowel, as it does in the middle of a word. Instead, it represents a so-called "hamzat al-wasl" (linking hamza), i.e. it can be pronounced two ways.
  1. If for some reason the word does not come after a vowel (because, for instance, it stands at the beginning of the sentence), a glottal stop (hamza) is pronounced. As Cross Reference noted above, this sound is almost never marked in Western transliterations, particularly at the beginning of words. (This is mainly due to the fact that noticing this stop is difficult for speakers of Western languages.)
  2. If a vowel precedes this hamzat al-wasl, it is not pronounced. For example Abu al-Hawl (the Sphinx) is pronounced "abulhawl", not *"abualhawl".

Thus the explanation under the picture is incorrect, and I shall remove it. (This doesn't change the fact that Arabic script is an impure abjad.)--Mathae (talk) 12:13, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

Please replace this example with one that does contain some long vowels. Jec (talk) 22:09, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

The name abjad[edit]

I changed the text from "The name abjad itself derives from the first four letters of the Arabic alphabet" to "The name abjad itself derives from the Arabic word for alphabet" before noticing it was discussed further down in the Terminology section. Should that sentence in the lede be eliminated altogether? —Wiki Wikardo 18:25, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Arabic legend[edit]

The following paragraph is unsourced and generally in such bad shape (apparently mangled through repeated sloppy cuts and pastes) that I have simply removed it. Because I am not familiar enough with the topic, I have no idea where to begin copyediting it. The paragraph also feels out of place, and the flow of the section is improved without it. If someone can clean it up ßß and more importantly, source it -- feel free to add it back in.

According to an Arab legend[citation needed], it is said that the ( six )? group of letters which form this alphabet (Ph.: ʼbjad hwz ḥṭy klmn sʼpṣ qršt)... In Arabic أبجد هوز حطي كلمن سعفص قرشت ثخذ ضظغ. These meaningless words collect all Arabic letters, the first one is أبجد Abjad were the names of the rulers of region of Midian[citation needed]. These six rulers of Midianites had devised the order of the alphabet according to their names. Abjad (originally, Abu Jad, Arabic: أبو جد, meaning great grandfather) was the eldest of them all[citation needed].

Incidentally, I have also removed the last line of this section, as it was a fragment of a sentence apparently also orphaned through cutting and pasting. It had no clear antecedent anywhere in the section (and, for that matter, no real relevance to the topic that I could ascertain).--Nonstopdrivel (talk) 21:09, 12 April 2011 (UTC)


An anonymous ( made a contribution which was misleading towards the origin of the word ʾabǧad.  I corrected it. It's from the order of all Semitic-legacy letters, such as Arabic letters, which used to be ordered that way, as Hebrew and other Semitic scripts letters. The new ordering which is called hiǧāʾī  was an attempt to order letters together according to their similar shapes. Arabic letters are still used in the ʾabǧad  order if they were to be used in numbering, the same way it is done in English: a, b, c, d  or  I, II, III, IV, V, VI... --Mahmudmasri (talk) 00:43, 21 June 2011 (UTC)


Whose opinion is at Abjad#structure of Semitic languages that claims the Abjad orthography improves word root recognition? --Mahmudmasri (talk) 21:25, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

  • It's the old Arabic professor's advice to students uncertain of a new word's meaning. Let's say that I know the root Shin-Ta-Mim means "to curse at/insult" and that Stem VI (tafā`ala) is the mutual construction. Then I run into the nonce word tashātum, in writing; I can immediately tell that the writer means "cussing at/insulting each other". Now obviously, this can be done with a fully-alphabetic script, but an abjad makes it easier for someone with just a little practice in doing so. The word تشاتم is visually more similar to the word تفاعل than their equivalents in another script: the root and stem are the only information on the word we are given, making it substantially easier to recognize the patterns and integrate them. Lockesdonkey (talk) 22:43, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
Not necessary. For example, هاتف feels like it's from هتاف "chanting", unrelated to the communication machine "telephone". --Mahmudmasri (talk) 06:05, 1 September 2011 (UTC)


I added a chart of extinct and extant abjads. Please help to improve it (add citations, improve my style, etc..) GreenGibbon (talk) 17:35, 15 December 2011 (UTC)